LUDO CAN’T RUSH COAL-FIRED PLANT

By: Carmel Loise Matus April 27,2016 - 04:20 AM
KIDS PLAY. On the water just off the Ludo Power Corp. complex along the coast of Barangay Sawang Calero in Cebu City, where the company proposes to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant.  (CDN PHOTO/ FERDINAND EDRALIN)

KIDS PLAY. On the water just off the Ludo Power Corp. complex along the coast of Barangay Sawang Calero in Cebu City, where the company proposes to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant.
(CDN PHOTO/ FERDINAND EDRALIN)

Environment officials are throwing the book at the proponents of the coal-fired power plant who are pushing for its immediate construction in the middle of an urban poor village in Cebu City.

The power plant cannot be built in Barangay Sawang Calero unless a comprehensive study has been done and accepted by a majority of the village’s residents as well as by a review committee,  lawyer Michael Drake Matias told Cebu Daily News yesterday.

“They (Ludo Power Corp.) should comply with the standards set by the Environment Management Bureau (EMB),” said Matias, chief of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)  division of the EMB,  which is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

He said his office had received Ludo’s application for the issuance of the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC), a requirement before the power plant could be allowed to be built.

But he added that they could not issue an ECC unless an Environmental Impact and Assessment Study (EIAS) will be made on the project to determine, among others, if building a coal-fired power plant would be adverse to the health of residents living near it as well as to its surrounding environment.

The study would usually take three to six months to complete, he added.

After conducting the study, Matias said, the results would be presented to the residents to determine if the project would be acceptable to them.

So far, Matias said, they have not even started the EIAS since they were still in the process of data gathering, such as collating the number of affected residents.

He said EIAS would have to be undertaken by Ludo Power Corp. through their project consultants and in the presence of the technical experts of EMB.

Cebu Daily News tried reaching Ludo Power Corp.’s public relations manager Nelson Yuvallos for a comment on the statement of Matias that an EIAS  was required before their proposed coal-fired power plant project could get first base. But texts and repeated calls to his cellphone number were not returned.

When CDN reached Ludo’s partner public relation manager Cerwin Eviota, he responded with, “We don’t know,” when asked what stage the EIAS  has reached by now.

The Cebu City Council’s committee on environment is set to render a report in today’s regular session as to whether or not favorably endorse the project.

The committee, through its chairperson Councilor Nida Cabrera, has conducted a committee meeting with other councilors last Thursday and another stakeholders’ meeting together with Ludo, the residents who are opposing the project and other concerned agencies last Friday.

Objections

A public hearing was also conducted by the City Council in Barangay Sawang Calero last April 17.

Last March 3, a group from EIA conducted a public scoping, which was like a public hearing where the proponents presented the project to the residents.

The participants included Sanlakas Cebu, Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc. (PEJC), residents from the barangays affected, management of Ludo Corp. and representatives from the EMB.

Aaron Pedrosa, the secretary general of Sanlakas Cebu who was present during the public scoping, said the Ludo officials presented the benefits of the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant project.

But during the open forum, he added, his group pointed out the ill effects of coal-fired plant to the health of the residents of five villages that would be affected, namely, Sawang Calero,  Suba, Pasil, San Nicolas Proper and Pahina San Nicolas.

Each of their point of objection, according to Pedrosa, was noted by the EIA Study team.

Pedrosa said their Health Justice Network stressed that pregnant women and children aged one to three  might be affected if exposed to an air pollutant-particulate matter of 2.5 or PM2.5 which would be emitted usually by a coal-fired power plant.

Pedrosa said the international environmental organization Greenpeace has gathered records of  death and the medical certificates of those whose health had allegedly been affected by pollution caused by coal-fired power plant that was put up near their areas.

He cited the cases of the residents  living near Pagbilao Power Station in Quezon, which is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company and Marubeni Corporation (Team Energy), a partner of Ludo Power Corp. in setting up the coal-fired power plant in Sawang Calero.

Template

Matias said there is a template in conducting the EIAS, which they call as Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Screening Form.

These forms pre-identify the projected environmental impacts per project type and the corresponding baseline data and the assessment methodology requirement.

It also serves as a checklist for scoping and checking if the EIAS submitted as a requirement for the application of ECC is complete.

The forms also provide the identification of the critical climate and disaster risk parameters that need to be included in the EIAS as well as climate change adaptation options that should be considered or studied and incorporated in the project design.

The data that would be included in the EIAS have the following:

*Project location and area;

*Project rationale which cites the need to put up the power plant and its impact on the local and regional economy;

*Should the project cannot push through, proponent must cite alternatives that include the location, design, technology, among others;

*Project components including technical details such as specification of the operations and process, identification of other support facilities, materials and requirements as well as pollution control devices and safety or emergency facilities;

*Project size or the description of the power generating facility;

*Development Plan, Description of Project Phases and Corresponding Time frames;

*Number of workforce;

*Project cost.

The study requires that the possible environmental risks and impact that the project will bring should be identified.

The proponents should also provide livelihood projects to residents who may be displaced as well as disaster plan in case an emergency might break out in the power plant.

They are also required to submit an Environmental Compliance Monitoring which is a checklist to determine if they have complained with the requirements of the ECC.

These requirements cited in the EIS Screening Force should be completed, said Matias.

The results of the EIA study will then be presented to the residents of the affected barangays, project proponents, and village and DENR officials.

If the participants of the public hearing would not be satisfied by the results, he added, another study would be conducted.

After the public hearing, a review committee composed of experts from the EMB, DENR and  the academe would go over the results of the study.

The committee members, he added, would determine what additional study was needed.

Matias said the application for an ECC would only be processed once both the review committee and the affected residents were satisfied with the study.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, children, coal, DENR, EMB, environment, health hazzard, Ludo, Ludo Power Corp.

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